Punk by Young Thug: “whole industry at his disposal”

In what has turned out to be a surprisingly quiet October for the rap industry, Young Thug has provided some much-needed relief with the release of his highly anticipated sophomore studio album. 

The project titled ‘Punk’ comes towards the end of what’s already proved to be a successful year for the 30-year-old. With his label compilation ‘Slime Language 2’ selling over 113,000 units in its first week earlier in the year, fans were expecting something special from ‘Thugger’ who has often been described as a pioneer for this new era of hip-hop. 

For me, ‘Punk’ isn’t just any old release for Young Thug. He opens up like we’ve never seen before and isn’t afraid to leave any detail about his turmoil out. 

It was clear to see the message behind this album right from the start with the cryptic album cover. Young Thug pays homage to Mexican born surrealist Octavio Ocampo’s “Forever Always” painting which is famously perceived as having a sense of duality or differing meanings. Thug puts his own spin on this, perhaps encouraging his fans to delve deeper to find the true meaning behind the release. 

As with a lot of his music of late, Young Thug continues to blur the line between rap and pop by crafting a hybrid sound that is so unique, it has become synonymous with the Atlanta rapper. ‘Punk’ incorporates a lot of different styles into its track list, but perhaps the most notable are the reoccurring guitar backing tracks that are prominent throughout most of the project. It builds on Thug’s 2017 mixtape ‘Beautiful Thugger Girls’ where we saw glimpses of a string beat behind his voice. For me, the beats work perfectly with his voice and create vivid emotions throughout the songs while also isolating Young Thug’s unique vocals. 

A good analogy for this album would be a rollercoaster ride of opinions and emotions. When I first listened to it, I was left conflicted and confused. One part of me wanted to get lost in the vocals and enjoy the journey that Young Thug had crafted, however, there was also a part of me that was wondering if this album was worth it. This became most apparent for me during the track ‘Recognise Real’ featuring Gunna which was simply bland. No real depth or emotion left this track sticking out like a sore thumb from the rest of the album. 

Despite the poorly produced Gunna feature, for the most part Young Thug did an excellent job of choosing who to collaborate with on this album. He has the whole industry at his disposal and was therefore able to hand-pick artists that he knew would sound comfortable on this new style. With the likes of Post Malone, Juice WRLD, Drake, Travis Scott, ASAP Rocky, and Future all being included the album was set to succeed before it was released. 

While this album might not be the best release of the year, Young Thug has further diversified himself and proved to everyone why he is one of the best to do it. He’s a trend setter and paves the way for younger artists to come through and establish themselves. He single handily initiated Lil Baby’s career, an artist who is now widely regarded as one of the most popular rappers of the late 2010’s. 

I am a big fan of this new style that Young Thug has adopted, and I hope that he carries this forward into future releases. 

Overall, I would give this album an 8/10

Written by Joe Bell

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